Empire Justice Center’s Police Reform Project promotes equity, antiracism, and social justice within established criminal justice systems such as law enforcement departments and institutions of pre-trial incarceration. To achieve these goals, Empire Justice Center partners with organizations, community groups, and individuals to understand the needs of communities; educates the public about their legal rights and systemic inequities; develops policy positions; engages in strategic communication with organizational leaders; lobbies to achieve greater fairness and equity in legislation; and engages in targeted litigation.
Stop the Stops
A pretext stop is when a police officer stops a motorist, cyclist, or even a pedestrian, for a minor offense – like not having a bell on a bicycle or having something hanging from a car’s rear view mirror – when the real reason for the stop is something else. The other reason may be a suspicion without enough of a legal basis that the person stopped has done something wrong, or another reason that would be illegal, like racial profiling. The types of offenses upon which these low-level Vehicle and Traffic Law violations are based do not involve enhancing safety. These stops are often conducted in communities of color and are often directed against young Black men. Multiple studies reflect the racial disparities in who is subjected to pretext stops. For example, from some studies and data cited in our new report, linked below.
We at Empire Justice believe that in order to reduce racial disparities in policing, New York must #StopTheStops. Empire Justice Center is working to end these racially disparate police practices in several ways.
Our first step to #StopTheStops has been to create a preliminary report explaining why pretext stops are so harmful to individuals and communities.
The Preliminary Report:
Our comprehensive preliminary report is only the first step in our effort to address racial disparities in low level stops. In addition to our issuance of this report, we will be creating proposals to reduce or eliminate these racially disparate stops in New York. We want to hear from you. We want to hear your stories, gain the support of those who seek to promote antiracism in policing as we continue to examine and report on pretext stops, and develop recommendations for ending these practices in New York.
Have the police stopped you in the City of Rochester? Empire Justice is part of a coalition working together to improve police and community relations through exploring input on best practices for stops. Click on the flyer below to participate in a survey. Download the flyer